07/08/2013 at 02:30 PM EDT
From his seat in row 32, Benjamin Levy looked out the window as the plane he was traveling on, a Boeing 777 – one of the safest aircrafts in the world – prepared to land.
Levy is a businessman and frequent flyer, so he knew something was wrong when Asiana Airlines's Flight 214
out of Seoul began to approach the San Francisco International Airport runway on Saturday just before noon. The jetliner was too low, he recalled to The New York Times
"The pilot put the gas full steam, and we tipped back up – he went full throttle to regain a bit of altitude," Levy said in an interview from his home. "We were so close to the water, the water got sprayed up. There were walls of water beside the window – before we started hitting earth."
Then came the crash landing
, which ultimately killed two 16-year-old students and hospitalized 182. "And then we landed again pretty hard," Levy told NBC Bay Area
. "We hit the runway pretty bad, and then we started going back up in the air again."
When the aircraft finally came to a stop, Levy took action. He says he got out of his seat and helped open an emergency exit. He saw debris everywhere, and the wing of the plane was gone. Still, there were 291 passengers on the flight, and so he focused on helping as many of them as he could exit the aircraft.
"It was surreal," Levy told the NBC affiliate. "A lot of people screaming and not really believing what was happening to them. I wasn't believing it either."
"We were left on our own, there was no message from the pilot, from the crew, there was no one," he added to the Times
. "We had to help each other out."
Then there was smoke and, according to the Times
story, a firefighter rushed in from a hole in the back of the plane, telling passengers to get out.
Now, there are some cuts and bruises on Levy's body. He was later released from the San Francisco General Hospital and is with his family.
"I am [in pain], but not too bad compared to other people," he said, adding on Twitter
of his actions, "Just did what anyone in my position would have done."